06 July 2010

The whole story of America

Last year on Independence Day, we took a momentary pause to watch the procession known as America on Parade, the flotilla created to share the history of America during the Bicentennial. While the fireworks of the Fourth may have lit the night sky with their last burst, and the leftover potato salad has been devoured, there is still time to feel patriotic and to once again find a spot on Main Street to watch America on Parade, this time with a duck as our guide.

In 1975, Disney released the Little Golden Book, Walt Disney’s Donald Duck in America on Parade. The book follows Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie as they take in a viewing of America on Parade. Afterwards, it is time for the ducklings to do their homework, but Huey is too tired to do complete the task, and soon falls fast asleep. In his dream, his brothers and Donald find their way into major American history milestones, the same milestones marked in America on Parade. Along the way, Donald continually mismanages his tasks, from cooking for a captain, letting fires go out, and not helping with the harvest. In one of the final scenes, Donald forgets his American history, leaving Huey to quip, “Even if he didn’t study, he did see the Walt Disney World parade,” at which point an exhausted Huey wakes up and decides to finish his homework.
The similarity in the events of the story and the movements of parade are not the only connections between the Little Golden Book and America on Parade. The procession is populated by eight foot tall, larger than life characters created specifically for the parade that were known as the People of America. In the Donald Duck tale, the scale of the surrounding historical cast appears to have been brought down to size, while the look and feel of the players, right down to the clothing selection, seems like a dead-on match to the People of America.

While the parade itself is shown in the opening pages of Donald Duck in America on Parade, there are still other references to the parks throughout the book. For instance, after the parade has ended, the gaggle of Donald and his nephews are walking to their car with a monorail sliding by above them. In one portion of Huey’s historical dream sequence, the boys are traveling along the Mississippi River on a raft, with an island in the background, a steamboat is coming around the bend, and Donald is described as piloting a keel boat. While this entire scene takes place in the past, the illustration is straight from the Rivers of America.
In 1975, with the Bicentennial just a year away, American citizens had red, white, and blue coming out of every pore in their bodies. Donald Duck in American on Parade was a simply and effective way to not only include children in the celebration, but to educate them in their country’s history as well. Additionally, the book would have been a great way to remember, or prepare for, a trip to Walt Disney World, or to allow children to feel like they had been a part of the parade, even if their family hadn’t been able to make it to Florida. While a lot has happened in the past thirty-five years, the history presented within Donald Duck in America on Parade holds up, and could be used with little ones today, if you are lucky enough to find a copy of this Little Golden Book in a used bookstore or online.


Anonymous said...

I love these Disney and esp. Disneyland Golden Books. Thanks for the closeups :)
They bring back a lot of good memories.

Ryan P. Wilson said...

Debbie, I love the Little Golden Books, especially the Disney ones as well! In fact, I just picked up the Toy Story trilogy LGBs to add to my collection.